Snacking at night time could raise the risk of breast cancer and diabetes, a new study suggests.
This research conducted by the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine aimed to demonstrate that nocturnal eating should be avoided.
The research team observed that fasting at night allows the metabolism to work in alignment with natural sleep-wake cycles which is important in reducing the risk of disease.
2,000 women took part in the study, who recorded their eating and sleeping patterns between 2009 and 2010.
They were 20 percent less likely to have high blood sugar, a known risk factor for diabetes and breast cancer, for every three hours of extra fasting at night.
The risk of disease was also lowered among participants who ate meals at regular times and waited longer to eat between dinner and breakfast. This served to regulate blood sugar levels.
Longer fast durations also seemed to indicate fewer calories were consumed per day, with fewer eating episodes recorded after 10:00pm.
Lead author Catherine Marinac reported: "This is a simple dietary change that we believe most women can understand and adopt. It may have a big impact on public health without requiring complicated counting of calories or nutrients."
However, caution has been urged by Katie Goates, Senior Research Communications Officer at Breakthrough Breast Cancer and Breast Cancer Campaign, who responded to the findings.
"As the researchers did not assess the fasting overnight could affect a person's breast cancer risk is unfounded," said Goates.